Category: peanut butter

Dark-chocolate-peanut-butter-filled-white-chocolate candies from heaven.

Finally- it’s heading into the second week of December. Christmas is like, the Mount Everest for bloggers. Especially food or crafty bloggers. Since before Halloween it’s been a slow build-up to right now. First came all the fall stuff, then the spooky stuff, then the turkey stuff. But now… now shit is getting’ real. All the good foods, cakes, cookies, snacks, decorations & crafty stuff is out right now. It’s officially CHRISTMAS!

What would Christmas be without tons of insanely delicious sweets, candies & cookies? Horrible. I mean, it’s only natural. It wouldn’t seem right to have a Christmas or a holiday season without a little over-indulgence. If not now, then when?!

Homemade Reese's- white chocolate filled with dark chocolate & peanut butter.

These little babies right here are a result of late-night holiday cravings. Inspired by my original creations- which were also a late night craving. Thankfully, they’re insanely simple to make and take all of a half hour tops, including the melting.

Homemade peanut butter cups! No preservatives, no chemicals!

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Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream.

‎”Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.” —Voltaire‎

Kings County Distillery chocolate flavored whiskey.

One can only imagine what Voltaire would say about this ice cream in particular: a double whammy of both chocolate and chocolate-flavored whiskey from the Kings County Distillery, made for my favorite guy’s 32nd birthday. Yup, that’s right. Jay turns the big 3-2 today! Just so you know- he’s older than I am (by a whopping 2 months & 7 days, but let’s not get into that). See the thing is, usually I ask him what he wants me to bake for him for his birthday (as I do with everyone), then I bake it and give it to him on the actual day. But this year, Jay’s been on tour for over a week and he’s got a show tonight too. So tomorrow is his only day off and then Saturday it’s back to work. I decided to make something that would keep well and only get better with age (like Jay!).

What better than whiskey ice cream?

Chocolate whiskey ice cream. Made with two types of chocolate and chocolate "flavored" whiskey from Kings Co. Distillery.

I mean, the man’s been on tour for a week drinking probably nothing but bourbon & whiskey. Why not just keep the streak going?

Not to mention the fact that I believe it’s officially ice cream time. Memorial Day is next week, and the weather was a partly cloudy yet humid 75° F when I made this batch. To me, that means it’s the start of ice cream season. The whiskey I used for this is, like I said, from Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, NY. It has actual bits of dark chocolate floating around in it. It’s pretty strong, in my opinion it’s not a terrific “sipping whiskey,” more so one that’s best suited for mixing or baking. However it also has a strong chocolate aftertaste that makes this ice cream super special. But a regular whiskey or bourbon works just fine, too. And I can just imagine using that cherry bourbon chocolate sauce on this… lawdamercy. But the topping I used was pretty spectacular (keep reading for that).

This should probably be called ‘triple chocolate whiskey’ ice cream since there’s two types of chocolate PLUS chocolate whiskey. Call it whatever you want. Either way, it’s amazing.

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream made with two kinds of chocolate PLUS chocolate 'flavored' whiskey from Kings Co. Distillery.

Triple chocolate ice cream: the creamiest ice cream you'll ever make. Or eat. Made with Kings Co. Distillery's chocolate whiskey.I love the way the light reflected & made a halo around the bowls. Even Mother Nature loves this ice cream!

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE WHISKEY ICE CREAM

Recipe can be doubled

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup Kings County Distillery chocolate flavored whiskey
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces chopped dark chocolate

Directions:

  1. Whisk together egg yolks, whiskey and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, whisk together cream, vanilla, chocolate and 1/4 cup of sugar. Simmer over low heat until the chocolate is melted. Temper egg yolk mixture by slowly adding hot cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture, with a ladle, a little at a time. Once egg yolk mixture is thoroughly warmed add to the saucepan with the warm cream mixture. Stir until thickened and remove from the heat.
  3. Strain mixture into a bowl over ice. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. Spin in an ice cream maker for 25 minutes… it probably won’t get much firmer, but this helps “churn” it. Add to a freezer-safe container & freeze for 12-24 hours so it gets firm.

Peanut butter whipped cream!

For an extra special treat, for my peanut butter lover… I made some peanut butter whipped cream to top it with. I know. I know. Don’t even say anything. There’s nothing you CAN say, it’s ridiculous. If you use a creamy peanut butter, yours will look smoother. Mine was crunchy.

Oh. I almost forgot: there are chocolate sprinkles too. Can’t have a birthday without sprinkles.

PEANUT BUTTER WHIPPED CREAM (from Yes, I Want Cake)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (chunky peanut butter works also, I used it)
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it’s almost but not quite “stiff.”
  2. Add the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat for another minute & serve.

Triple chocolate WHISKEY ice cream. Two types of chocolate and chocolate whiskey come together to make the creamiest, smoothest, most chocolatey ice cream ever. Oh, and there's peanut butter whipped cream to go with it.

Yeah. Not much to say about that. Well, other than WHOA. This is literally the softest, most creamy ice cream I ever made. It’s super decadent, fudgy & delicious. But it also has a little whiskey bite. Not much, mind you, just enough. However… it melts fast! So be careful. Only take it out right when you’re gonna serve it. It does NOT have to sit out & soften. In my experience, it’s ready to go right out of the freezer. Of course, if you freeze it for weeks, it might get a bit harder, but it still isn’t going to take long to “defrost” enough to serve. I also wouldn’t serve it in cones, it’s far too creamy.

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream. Dark chocolate & semisweet chocolate combine with chocolate whiskey to make a smooth, creamy, rich ice cream that you'll LOVE. Add some peanut butter whipped cream & chocolate sprinkles to complete the experience.

On that note I’ll end this by saying…

Happy birthday Jay! And many more…

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream with peanut butter whipped cream!

Psst.. .the tiki mug giveaway is still going strong. You’ve got until May 27th at 11:59 p.m. to enter. So go!

Sources & credits: Arcoroc French made smoky-clear glass bowls; vintage, Le Creuset mini coccottes in “Twilight” (white shown).

Candy girl.

Did you ever get a craving for candy at like, 3 a.m.?

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I just decide at midnight that I want a piece of candy… and usually I never end up filling that wish, unless I have some in the house or I can convince someone to go get me some. Those are the lazy nights. And then there are other nights, nights when I have baking chocolate, sugar, & all the ingredients necessary to make my own candy… so I do.

I get asked fairly regularly some variation on the following theme: “Giiiiiirl, how do you make all this stuff and not weigh 600 pounds?” or “How do you stay so damn skinny when you bake all of this delicious stuff?!” or “OH MY GOD how can you exist in a home with all of this food & not EAT IT ALL ALL DAY LONG?” No joke, I think I get asked something like that at least once a day. And my answer is, in a word: moderation. All in all, I eat well. Yeah, I eat cake & cookies. And I eat a lot of cheese & carbs, too, as well as drinking an obscene amount of coffee (including lattes) and Coke Zero. And I absolutely love me some good red wine or good beer. However on the other hand I also eat a lot of broccoli, salad, carrots, etc… & I drink a lot of water. I don’t believe in restriction, I don’t believe in denying yourself anything or busting your ass in the gym because you ate three cookies instead of two. I don’t think a life where vegetables are your only food source is much of a life at all… but that’s just me. So yeah, in short, I eat good quality baked goods but I eat far more well balanced food. And as much as I F$#!ING hate him (and I really do) I agree with Anthony Bourdain’s quote: “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

I mean, I’m not making broccoli in the wee hours of the morning. Jay is, not me. I’d eat it, though, if I was hungry. ‘Cause broccoli is friggin’ awesome.

Shit. Sorry. Got distracted. Back to the homemade candy…

Yes, folks, I made some homemade peanut butter cups! I had this massive tub of peanut butter left from those cupcakes… plus I had tons of chocolate left from Christmas. What else is a girl supposed to do!? They’re insanely easy. You can be finished with a batch in a half-hour, no joke. And there are a lot of recipes out there on the web, some more difficult than others, but mine is relatively simple & to the point.

It goes like this:

  1. Melt a bag of milk chocolate chips in a double boiler, or microwave, half of the bag at one time.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together 1 1/2 cups peanut butter, 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 3 tablespoons melted (& cooled) unsalted butter and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Make sure it’s thoroughly combined & smooth. Fill a disposable plastic pastry bag with the peanut butter filling & set aside. If, for whatever reason, it’s not thick, add more sugar & peanut butter until it’s thick. You want a thicker consistency than regular peanut butter (so it resists melting in the warm chocolate).
  3. Line mini-muffin pans with mini cupcake liners or spray them well with PAM. Spoon some melted chocolate into the liners or the muffin tins, smoothing it up a little onto the sides with a small spoon or your (clean) finger to create the bottom of a “cup.” Place the tin in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to fully cool & harden.
  4. When it’s hardened, take it out and pipe a decent-sized ball of peanut butter filling into each cup. Once every cup has filling, use the back of a spoon or a finger dipped in water to push the balls of filling down more to make them a bit flatter. Then spoon more melted chocolate on top of each.
  5. Once the entire pan has been filled, tap it gently on the counter until the chocolate smooths out. Then put the pan back into the freezer for another 10 minutes or until hard.
  6. Repeat the process until all the chocolate and all the peanut butter filling is done.

Et voilà! Peanut butter cups. No preservatives, no chemicals, no additives.

Now in theory you could probably just use straight peanut butter instead of making a filling out of it. It would still work. I just think you need a sweeter filling for these, and regular straight peanut butter can be too “dry” or salty. Plus I think it’s just way too soft, and it’d probably melt as soon as the very warm chocolate hit it. But if you like it that way then hey, go for it. I think you could probably use chunky peanut butter as well, you just may need to make larger peanut butter cups (and a larger pastry tip too). Also, if you want to experiment with other nut butters- heh, I said nut butters- then you can probably do that as well. Just take into consideration the consistency of it, as long as it’s thick enough & not liquidy, you’re good. Same goes for chocolate; use dark chocolate or semi-sweet even, if you prefer. I’d actually like to make them with a white chocolate coating next time. And for Valentine’s Day, you could sprinkle some heart-shaped sprinkles on top! Or, make them in those heart-shaped silicone baking cups.

And speaking of peanut butter… I think I kinda wanna read this book!

Comfort food.

I don’t know about you, but this time of year is a tad depressing for me. It’s gray, it’s cold, it’s either snowing or there’s freezing rain pelting the windows, the Christmas lights are either down already or coming down this week, and most people have tossed their poor little Christmas trees to the curb (not me, however). And at the curb is where they lay, getting splashed by the car tires of passersby sloshing through the puddles of melted snow or rain. Their once proud needles falling off, now surrounding them like the Liliputs surrounding Gulliver as he awakens on the beach. It’s a sad state of affairs. The next “holiday” isn’t until February 14th, and that leaves over one month of dark, cold, bleak winter days to trudge through. I don’t do resolutions, but if I did? Mine would be something like “Don’t hide under the covers until April,” ’cause I really need that reminder this time of year.

And all of that calls for comfort food: thick & creamy baked macaroni & cheese with toasted breadcrumb topping, deep dish pizza’s loaded with extra cheese, roast chicken/coq au vin, beef bourguignon, potatoes au gratin, potato & leek soup, steak & buttermilk mashed potatoes, matzoh ball soup, tomato soup with grilled cheese. Heavy, hot, wintery food that makes me feel better about getting up in the morning when it’s still dark out. I guess that means something different to everyone, though. Maybe your comfort food is ice cream. Maybe it’s lobster bisque. Maybe it’s Ritz crackers with Cheez-Whiz.

No judgement.

Because… there’s more than just one kind of comfort food. One person’s comfort food might be macaroni & cheese, but your comfort food might be a ham & cheese sandwich, because that’s what your mom used to pack in your lunchbox. Food evokes memories, sometimes good… sometimes bad. I stopped eating a certain kind of chicken when I was younger because I ate it during a bad case of the flu & it didn’t sit well. So from then on, I associated that chicken with that illness. Or, an example in the other direction: Chinese food from a certain place reminds me of my childhood, and my grandma who used to love shrimp with lobster sauce, and having my mom pick the onions, egg & mushrooms out of the house fried rice before I’d eat it. So it’s a positive memory for me, and that particular Chinese food restaurant always makes me feel happy.

On that note, a peanut butter & jelly sandwich is considered comforting for a lot of people, too. Just a simple little sandwich can take you back to being a kid, and having your mom make you lunch. It can make you feel safe & taken care of even on the worst of days. And what’s better than a sandwich?

A cupcake.

A peanut butter & jelly cupcake to help combat the winter blues.

You might be surprised at the origins of the classic kid’s favorite:

In the early 1900s, peanut butter was considered a delicacy that was only served in New York City‘s finest tearooms. The product was first paired with a diverse set of foods such as pimento, nasturtium, cheese, celery, watercress, and on toasted crackers.[3] In a Good Housekeeping article published in May 1896, a recipe “urged homemakers to use a meat grinder to make peanut butter and spread the result on bread.” In June of that same year, the culinary magazine Table Talk published a “peanut butter sandwich recipe.”[4] The first reference of peanut butter paired with jelly on bread was rumored to be published in the United States by Julia Davis Chandler in 1901.[5] By the late 1920s, this sandwich eventually moved down the class structure as the price of peanut butter declined. It became popular with children.[6] During World War II, it is said that both peanut butter and jelly were found on U.S. soldiers’ military ration list, as claimed by the Peanut Board.[7]

PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES (from Martha Stewart)

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • grape or strawberry jelly (or the fruit jelly of your choice; either homemade or store bought)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, peanut butter and sugar until smoothly blended and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Mix in eggs. Mix the vanilla & sour cream together in a separate bowl & set aside.
  3. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the wet ingredients in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.
  4. Fill each liner about 3/4 full. Bake just until the tops feel firm, they are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. There will be cracks on the top. Cool cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pan on wire rack. Then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on rack.
  5. Once cooled, take a cupcake and fill the center with a bit of the grape jelly. There are two methods for this: one, cut out a piece of the center of the cupcake (with a round pastry tip or sharp knife) and replace it with a spoonful of jelly. Or, two, use a piping bag fitted with a small round tip filled with some jelly and poke it down into the center of the cupcake, then squeeze some out (not too much or your cupcake will “explode”). Repeat whichever method you choose for all the cupcakes. Then proceed to frost them.


PEANUT BUTTER BUTTERCREAM (from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (or chunky, if you prefer that, but piping the finished product will be harder)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 – 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Fine salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cream peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed.
  2. On low speed, mix in sugar until combined, then beat mixture on high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add salt to taste, if desired. Use immediately.

BEST PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING EVER.


No joke. I got more compliments on this frosting than any other I can think of in recent memory. And I have to say, while eating it out of the bowl, I did notice it was amazing. I added a bit of jelly to the tops of cupcakes, too, but that’s just because these cupcakes were on my mind. I just sprinkled the gold crystal sugar on the frosting too, to make them a bit prettier.

Some people like peanut butter & strawberry jelly, so feel free to use that, too, or whatever kind of jelly you like. You can use homemade jelly & I’m sure you can use homemade peanut butter as well; but homemade peanut butter might be too “thin” for the batter & especially for the frosting, so just be aware that the texture difference between traditional store-bought & homemade might change the game a bit. However, an experienced baker should be able to accommodate any issues there.

Hey there, (peanut butter chocolate with a pretzel on top) cupcake.

It’s been a long time since I made anything with peanut butter. Yeah, I’ve made peanut butter chocolate fudge about a year ago, and some peanut butter ice cream, but I haven’t actually baked with it since April of 2010! And I had some really yummy Trader Joe’s peanut butter hangin’ around. So of course, I started thinking about what I could bake with it. Ahhh… cupcakes! I hadn’t made ‘em in a while. Not with frosting, anyway. And the last time I made peanut butter cupcakes, they were Fluffernutter cupcakes. Kid stuff. So how about a fancier, more grown-up peanut butter cupcake, made with organic sea salt peanut butter? Mmm hmm. Maybe some pretty peanut butter frosting? Maybe chocolate chips, or a chocolate sauce?

And… what about throwin’ a pretzel on top? Just because. Just because I can, really.

I haven’t broken Lola out for a baking task in quite some time. So, I thought we’d bond a little over some frosting. That’s Lola *points to the photo to the right* Pretty, pretty Lola. Lola is one of the loves of my life that doesn’t have a heartbeat, but a motor. Seriously, getting her changed my baking life 100%. I didn’t know how deficient I was until she entered my world. Or rather, until my man gifted me with her. If you don’t have a stand mixer, and you bake a lot, you need one. Yes, hand mixers are great, and I love mine tons. But stand mixers are a different animal. Once you get one you’ll never want to use anything else and you’ll even try to stuff your pillow and blanket in the bowl to sleep in it. Or maybe not. I don’t really know anybody that crazy. Hah. Anyway. If you do not have one, and you’d like a chance at winning one (in a beautiful bright blue called ‘Crystal Blue’) then head on over to She’s Becoming DoughMessTic and enter to win it. You can’t really live without one, if you love to bake. And if you’re sitting there thinking, “It’s just a mixer” then you really have no freakin’ idea, buddy.

Okay, what was I saying? Oh. Cupcakes. Yah. Anyway… I wanted to get some baking done before the weather got crazy hot. Things have been so bizarre weather-wise; snow in October, practically no winter, then 80˚ degree temps in March, then almost two weeks of pouring rain straight. I can’t predict how the summer will be but just in case it’s hot as balls, I wanted to bake up some pretty cupcakes.

PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES

Makes from 12-18 cupcakes, depending on the size of your pans & how much you fill them

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ degrees F.
  2. Combine milk and vanilla in small bowl. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in another small bowl. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugars in mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Slowly mix in peanut butter, then oil, until combined. Add half the flour mixture and blend slowly.
  4. When fully incorporated, add milk mixture. Continue to blend slowly. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Scoop into 12 lined baking cups and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

I could’ve left it at this… but no…

….

PEANUT BUTTER BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk.
  2. Mix well, adding more milk as needed to make a fluffy spreadable frosting.

For the cupcakes, just be sure to fill the liners more than halfway so you get a nice rise. I could’ve filled mine more, clearly. You can use whatever kind of peanut butter you want. I obviously used an organic, natural one with a bit of grit. You can use super thick, smooth, crunchy, whatever. The frosting is a bit different. If you use crunchy peanut butter, you can’t really pipe it nicely, so you’ll want to use something smoother unless you want to slap it in a food processor. This frosting is so extremely creamy and soft, and perfectly peanut-ty. Some of the best ever. It pipes into big ol’ swirls of soft-serve-ice-cream looking frosting. Oh, how delicious it is. But no, I didn’t leave it at that, although I could have. And you can too. No. I went further.

So clearly, I made both of these recipes, then when the cupcakes were cooled, I frosted them with a large star tip. Then… then… then, I added the ganache. Yes, ganache. And then topped ‘em with a little pretzel stick. And that was when they were done. My “ganache” is basically 2 tablespoons shortening with ½ cup -1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted until smooth (either in a microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between… or in a double boiler, or just very carefully in a saucepan, and I stress carefully because it will scorch). Ta-da! After being used, the ganache or sauce will harden into a firm, but not too hard layer of chocolate-y goodness. You could also frost on top of it once it’s firmed up, if you prefer. You can use this sauce hardened or in liquid form, it’s very versatile. If you let it harden, it will become the consistency of a soft truffle, almost. You can roll it into balls and dust it with cocoa powder and use it that way. However, it does melt easily in high humidity or heat. It’s the perfect chocolate sauce for topping a creamy peanut butter cupcake.

And you could top them with roasted peanuts if you want, but honestly, pretzels just go so well with peanut butter and chocolate.

While I’m on my way out: congratulations to Tim & Jana who got married yesterday, and a belated happy birthday to my “sister-in-law” Jen (also yesterday!). Cupcakes all around!

Happy Birthday to Indy!

Thanks to everyone who bought something from TOPSTITCH today. I appreciate it! The money is going to a great cause. Keep buying! You have until midnight West Coast time.

Indy turns two years old today. Time flies when you’ve got a four-legged child. It seems just like yesterday he was 35 lbs, chewing on people’s shoelaces & peeing in the dining room. Now he’s a 100 lbs of lean, not-so-mean pupcake-eating machinery, who enjoys sleeping on “his couch”, running around with his girlfriend Miley, Bully Sticks, Greenies and of course… hanging out on the deck (or romping in the snow).

Indy & Miley!

Since we’re not really sure when he was born exactly, we decided September 2nd would be his birthday. I’ve made Indy many, many homemade treats before. He adores them. Inhales them, in fact. I like doing it, besides knowing exactly what goes in them, it beats paying $4.50 a piece for a mass-produced, hard as a rock “pupcake” from a pet shop. Same reason why I make my own baked goods & food, and why I grew my own vegetables & herbs. Just makes more sense to me, you know? I like knowing exactly what’s going into my food, and my body. And my family’s body… and my pets’ too! Even if it is cream cheese, honey, and peanut butter-based *wink*

..

Luigi (left) & Mario!Luigi (left) & Mario!

Indy was kind enough to share these with his friends Mario & Luigi (above) who also had birthdays recently. Okay, actually, Indy’s mom & dad shared them, Indy would’ve eaten them all if given the chance. What can I say, he’s an only child. Oh! And Mario & Luigi’s mom & dad got married a week ago- congrats to them!

PUPCAKES WITH PEANUT BUTTER, CARROTS & OATS

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • ½ cup organic peanut butter
  • ½ cup greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ¾ cup LOW FAT milk
  • 16 ounces low fat cream cheese (or Neufchâtel)
  • another ¼ cup honey

Directions:

  1. Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, honey, peanut butter, yogurt and oil. Mix the milk in with the dry ingredients, blending well. At this point mix your carrots into the honey mixture, then mix the honey mixture into the flour/milk batter.
  2. Put in muffin tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes. These pupcakes freeze well. Frost if you like using a mix of the cream cheese and ¼ cup honey. Beat those two ingredients until well combined, then cover the tops of the pupcakes with it.

I used ground cinnamon to make little paw prints on the frosting using my thumb and pinky. Cinnamon is excellent for dogs (& humans!). It improves memory, prevents infections (anti-fungal/anti-bacterial), it’s an anti-inflammatory and it also regulates blood sugar, so if you were concerned when reading that I used it- don’t be! You could also just frost them with peanut butter. But you don’t even have to frost these, if you don’t want to. You could just leave ‘em plain and make ‘em doggie muffins. You could even substitute shredded zucchini for the carrots, or use mashed potatoes, pumpkin, applesauce or diced apples in them instead. Or maybe throw in some blueberries!

I’d store them in the fridge because of the cream cheese frosting & the yogurt, but they probably won’t last very long. They never do around here. Indy eats ‘em in two bites, if he isn’t licking off all the frosting first, that is. As always; if your dog is under 6 mos. old, elderly, sick, on medication or pregnant… please ask a vet before feeding it anything new/homemade/you’re unsure about. And do your research- if you can’t call a vet, Google is your best friend sometimes at 12 a.m. when you’re baking something & not sure of what to do.

*Insert long sigh here* They grow up so fast. Happy birthday, Indy, and many more. You’re a good boy, and we love you.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for…

PEANUT BUTTER FORKIN’ ICE CREAM!!

Of course my new ice cream maker has sort of taken over my life. I knew this would happen- first of all, it being summer, what could be better than homemade ice cream? Second, it being summer, what could be better than a delicious treat that doesn’t require baking in a hot oven? I knew that my soul would temporarily be sold to the cold, creamy, frosty devil known as ice cream. My spare time is spent thinking of what ice cream flavor to try next, and what experiments I can perform using ice cream/frozen yogurt/etc. So I apologize to those of you who don’t own an ice cream maker- you’re probably going to be seeing a fair amount of ice cream recipes on here. At least until the cooler weather kicks in… but why don’t you get yourself one too and then we can all be fat, happy, ice cream eating campers?

Ice cream is a weird thing, when you think about it. Who came up with the idea in the first place? The first recipes for ice cream appear in the 18th century, and the earliest reference to it is in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1744.

Before the development of modern refrigeration, ice cream was a luxury reserved for special occasions. Making it was quite laborious; ice was cut from lakes and ponds during the winter and stored in holes in the ground, or in wood-frame or brick ice houses, insulated by straw. Many farmers and plantation owners, including U.S. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, cut and stored ice in the winter for use in the summer. Frederic Tudor of Boston turned ice harvesting and shipping into a big business, cutting ice in New England and shipping it around the world.

Ice cream was made by hand in a large bowl placed inside a tub filled with ice and salt. This was called the pot-freezer method. French confectioners refined the pot-freezer method, making ice cream in a sorbetière (a covered pail with a handle attached to the lid). In the pot-freezer method, the temperature of the ingredients is reduced by the mixture of crushed ice and salt. The salt water is cooled by the ice, and the action of the salt on the ice causes it to (partially) melt, absorbing latent heat and bringing the mixture below the freezing point of pure water. The immersed container can also make better thermal contact with the salty water and ice mixture than it could with ice alone.

The hand-cranked churn, which also uses ice and salt for cooling, replaced the pot-freezer method. The exact origin of the hand-cranked freezer is unknown, but the first U.S. patent for one was #3254 issued to Nancy Johnson on September 9, 1843. The hand-cranked churn produced smoother ice cream than the pot freezer and did it quicker. Many inventors patented improvements on Johnson’s design.

I’ve got to say I’m happy things aren’t that difficult now. It takes me about 30 minutes tops to actually make the ice cream, and depending on the type, only a few hours in the fridge. This particular batch didn’t have to be cooked, as there were no eggs in it. As I mentioned previously, Jay loves peanut butter. So does Indy, actually, but I don’t know if there’s any correlation there. Anyway… the first thing Jay said to me when he bought me the ice cream maker was “Peanut butter ice cream!” I wanted to ease into the whole ice cream making thing slowly, previous to owning an actual ice cream maker I’d only ever made it by hand in my freezer (which was okay, it came out great, but was a pain in the ass) and aside from that, just an easy sorbet. So I thought I’d take it slowly by doing frozen yogurt first, which was a success, then moving on to a recipe that didn’t require cooking, like this peanut butter one.

And holybabykittenspuppies&Jesus, this was amazing. So tasty. I might be over-exaggerating, but it was seriously phenomenal. And I didn’t really do anything but wait around for the fridge and the ice cream maker to do their thing. I have to say, based on my success with this, I’m feeling like peppermint ice cream (tinted pink of course) might be on the horizon. I love peppermint ice cream.

HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the creamy peanut butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer and beat until smooth.
  2. Add the milk and blend on low speed for about 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has been dissolved.
  3. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla with a mixing spoon or a whisk.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  5. When ready, pour the ice cream base into your frozen ice cream maker bowl.
  6. Let mix until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. If you are adding in candies or peanuts, add them in the last 5 minutes of mixing.
  7. Pour into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 2 hours.

I’ll tell you what would be fantastic with this: Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter cups. Just throw ‘em into the mix 5 minutes before it’s done and it would be really awesome. Alternately, you could use chocolate chips, or even peanut butter chips. Or just plain old peanuts! I had it plain and it was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, as I’m sure you can imagine, but it’s fun to play around with toppings & stuff to put in the ice cream. And have I mentioned how much of a glowing review I give this ice cream maker attachment? Yeah. It’s sick. Of course, you need a KitchenAid mixer to use it. So if you don’t have one, then you may be better off just buying a stand-alone ice cream maker. And if you have a lot of kids, or eat a lot of ice cream, the KitchenAid attachment might not be beneficial to you- it only makes 2 quarts. For me, that’s perfect. I don’t need to have to go up a size to a 6 all because I got an ice cream maker. Forreals.

All this ice cream I plan to make will surely soothe the sadness I feel that my adorable new haircut, that was just a month old, had to be changed drastically. It was cut shorter because of the dreaded hair breakage us platinum blondes are so plagued by. So now I’m back to my old Michelle-Williams-in-Vogue/Tabatha Coffey-esque ‘do, still platinum blonde. However next month I’ll have to go a bit darker. This entire sentence should be punctuated by deep, lingering sighs. Don’t get me wrong, I love short hair. It’s just that I was growing mine out for over a year. Oh, the perils of beauty! I had black hair for 5 years and kept it mainly because I couldn’t get rid of it without cutting my hair off, then I finally get rid of it, cut it short and go blonde, then grow it out again just to have to cut it off… again.*

*(Some of you may read this & see a cautionary tale. I do not. I’ve been going through this cycle since high school, and I don’t plan on stopping now. I am an ever-changing being and having the same hair color & style bores me to death. I’d rather have my hair break off & cut it short than look like 85% of the rest of the planet.)